Our first foray into the mangroves was in Pichavaram, which is the second largest mangrove forest in India. It was flooded with high decibel tourists. A helpful forest officer spotted us amidst the cacophony and arranged a small boat to take us beyond the ‘tourist’ zone. It was an amazing experience. As the boat negotiated the first turn, we entered a long and narrow rivulet completely ensconced by luxuriant green foliage. The sky was totally eclipsed by low, tangled mangrove branches. It was like entering a green tunnel! In eerie silence we negotiated one tunnel after another till we entered one of the wider channels. Mangrove forests towered on either side, dense and gleaming in the evening sun. Finally the boatman steered us into a sandbank. We walked across to one of the most isolated beaches we have ever been to. The boatman gently whispered that these stretches of beaches were often used by the cadres of LTTE in their heyday!
Mangroves in India are mostly gifts of the east flowing rivers. Last week, it was yet another foray into the mangroves. There are comparatively less mangroves in the west coast. It was a wonderful opportunity, thanks to the Pankaj of Natures Nest to explore the mangroves along Zuari esturary and further into the Cumbharjua Canal.
As we entered the magic realm of the mangroves the astute eyes of Pankaj spotted many a bird nestling among the branches hanging low on the water. Within a few minutes we saw a group of Greater Crested Terns perched on the bamboo poles. As we ventured further there was a solitary Western Reef Egret followed by Striated Heron in the shade. A Peregrine Falcon was safely ensconced under the Zuari Bridge. Pankaj informed us that it wasn’t spotted for a long time till a keen observer spotted bird feathers floating under the bridge, looked up and chanced upon the culprit! We had a wonderful sighting Osprey perched on a stump. And of course host of kingfishers….collared, stork billed and the most beautiful of them all…the black capped kingfisher! Marsh crocodile was sunning along the banks lazily!
It was a hypnotic tryst with the mangroves of the Zuari estuary. It isn’t surprising then to find out that the word ‘mangrove’ is considered to be a combination of the Portuguese word ‘mangue’ and the English word ‘grove’!
Meditating birds perched on stilts and tree branches growing out of water brought out the muse in me….
The tangled web
Rooted in the past
Sharing with the wind
Deep within. . .
Glmpses At: goo.gl/photos/opwcymH4Uie7rLSUA